Looking westward at the upper Esopus Creek.
Esopus Bend Nature Preserve is a unique 161-acre preserve located partially within both the village and town of Saugerties along a dramatic bend in the Esopus Creek less than a mile from the Hudson River. The preserve borders Barclay Heights, a large housing development built in the 1950s, and is visible to 10,000 travelers a day who cross the Esopus Creek traveling on Rt. 9W into or out of the Village of Saugerties.
Known to locals as part of the old Schroeder Farm, Esopus Bend has not been used for agriculture in forty years and has reverted to a natural ecosystem rife with an array of flora and fauna. Turkeys nest in the meadow in June. Baby fawn prints dot the sands along the forest flood plain. Toads grow up here, and the air flits with dragonflies and birds. Eagles stand on the river birches, watching for prey. Red foxes patrol the forest, and coyotes feed in the preserve in winter.
The diversity of the biology of Esopus Bend is echoed in the diversity of the land itself. A lowland meadows and state-designated wetlands lie in a flood plain to the east. Sloping forests rim the northern reaches, and a flood plain forest leads to hemlock cover in the south. The carriage trail lies along a Lower Devonian limestone ridge, and the entire preserve is interlaced with drainage channels and swales that add to the complexity and mystery of the natural environment. The shape and diversity of the topography seems to echo the twelve-sided carapace of one of its most characteristic inhabitants, the snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina), which lives and nests in the wetlands.
The preserve is open to the public from dawn to dusk with new and improved hiking trails. Guided nature walks, birding field trips, kayak and canoe tours of the preserve’s shoreline, butterfly walks, and animal tracking adventures are just some of the activities offered.